UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier says he is not looking beyond his rematch against Stipe Miocic at UFC 241 amid an ongoing feud with Jon Jones.
The American, 40, will make his second defence of the title in Anaheim, California having initially won the belt from Miocic, 36, in July 2018.
However, Cormier has been caught up in a row on social media with long-term rival Jones in the build-up.
“I’m so focused on Stipe Miocic it’s crazy,” said Cormier.
“I would never disrespect him or myself by looking past him. This is going to be the toughest fight of my career because I know how motivated he will be.
“I’m a professional. I don’t look past people. Even if you see Jon Jones and I arguing, it doesn’t matter. My focus is solely on the goal, and that’s this weekend and winning another UFC championship.”
In the co-main event, Nate Diaz will make his return to the octagon to face Anthony Pettis at the Honda Centre.
‘No third fight’ – Jones
Cormier suffered the only defeat of his UFC career when Jones took the light heavyweight crown from him almost five years ago.
He was also knocked out by his compatriot during a title defence in July 2017, only to be reinstated as champion after Jones was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance before the fight – though the United States Anti-Doping Agency found Jones “was not intentionally cheating”.
Speculation over a third fight between the pair has been rife since.
Cormier held both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles for a period but relinquished the latter at the turn of the year and Jones claimed this week “no way will he lose that weight again”.
“I will guarantee you guys there will be no third fight,” Jones said on social media. No way will he be willing to reface those nightmares that come when facing the beast.”
Cormier begs to differ.
“Of course he wants to fight me, he’s fought three times this year and I’m going to make more this weekend than he will even if he fights again this year,” he said in a Tweet.
“How times have changed!”
Miocic won the heavyweight title in 2016 and successfully defended it three times before suffering a first-round knockout by Cormier during his outing in the octagon 13 months ago.
The American, a part-time firefighter in Ohio, boasts an 18-3 professional record with 14 of those wins coming via knockout.
Diaz makes long-awaited return
Diaz has not fought since losing to Conor McGregor by majority decision three years ago.
The 34-year-old has already sparked controversy in the build-up to his return by smoking a joint he claims contained CBD (Cannabidiol) – a legal cannabis product, which was taken off the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list several years ago.
“It’s good for you,” said Diaz at a news conference this week.
He will step into the octagon to face fellow American welterweight Pettis, who beat Stephen Thompson last time out in March and earned a Performance of the Night bonus.
Diaz says his long-term absence has been caused by the UFC pushing “other guys” such as McGregor, who he beat with a second-round submission in their first fight in March 2016.
Asked whether a third bout with McGregor would take place, he said: “I can’t tell you, time will tell with all that stuff, we’ll see what happens.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport